Mardi Gras is a time-honored tradition in New Orleans, but people all over the nation celebrate it by indulging in king cakes. King cakes have a rich history when it comes to celebrating Mardi Gras. Twelve days after Christmas, there’s a celebration in New Orleans to remember the wise men who brought gifts to baby Jesus. This special time is called the Feast of the Epiphany or Little Christmas on the Twelfth Night. During this time, people come together to have a huge feast, exchange gifts and bake a king cake in honor of the three kings.
Traditionally, the cake is made from a ring of braided cinnamon dough and decorated with purple, green and gold sugar toppings, which are considered to be Mardi Gras colors. A tiny baby made of plastic, porcelain or gold is inserted in it after it’s baked. The most exciting part is to see who gets the slice of cake with the baby in it because it’s believed that this person is rewarded with good luck. They’re also asked to either host the next king cake party or bring a cake to the party.
Merridee’s Breadbasket in downtown Franklin is famous for their king cakes. They love to join in on the fun of Mardi Gras by baking them from scratch every year. It’s unusual for a bakery outside Louisiana to put so much time and effort into offering a cake that’s such a huge part of the Mardi Grastradition, but so many customers request them each year, so they decided to offer them. “To our surprise, we sold 70 of them and knew we’d made the right move,” says Patti, Jobe, the manager at Merridee’s. They were even told by Louisiana natives that they were the best king cakes they’d ever tasted. Plus, they are beautifully decorated with colorful Mardi Gras beads, easily making their presentation the best these customers had ever seen. “You may find some bakeries offer them with fruit and cream cheese, but we don’t. Ours do have a small bit of cream cheese to add moisture and extra flavoring, but I’d say the best part is how beautiful and fun they are,” says Patti. Production Manager Amy Rupard and her two assistants deserve all the credit for baking and decorating these delicious works of art. This year, Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, February 9.
Start a new tradition this year by hosting your very own Mardi Gras party. Invite your family and friends and decorate your home with purple, green and gold beads. Don’t forget the king cake; it’ll add some fun and excitement to your celebration. You can preorder your cake from Merridee’s by calling (615)790-3755.